Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail: A Common Core Nonfiction Unit

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71 page unit plan — We are proud to release our unit on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” to recognize the fifty year anniversary of his struggles for basic human rights in Birmingham, Alabama. His movement’s peaceful demonstrations, the suffering they endured at the hands of police and in prison, and, of course, King’s incredibly persuasive writing pushed the national government to pass The Civil Rights Act the following year, a huge step towards obtaining our nation’s fundamental goal—freedom and equality for all. But the letter did more than that. In it King left us a legacy of wisdom. He outlined the basic tenets of nonviolent protest, echoed the sentiments of national unity George Washington called for in his “Farewell Address,” and gave us a portrayal of one of the greatest men in our history, a man who refused to let his anger or despair detract from his vision. His beliefs that “oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever,” “privileged people seldom give up their privileges willingly,” and “an unjust law is no law at all” are as relevant to us today as they were fifty years ago.

Our focus at UnCommon Core is to provide comprehensive, charter, and home school teachers with standards-based lessons that will engage and motivate students. Each lesson in our unit plan covers a variety of ELA Common Core Standards for Grades 9-12, including Reading Standards for Informational Texts, Informative/Explanatory and Narrative Writing Standards, Speaking and Listening Standards, and Language Standards. We have included technological resources and instructional support with our main lessons. Our unit also challenges students to use diverse media to convey their understanding of the text.

The 8-10 day unit is divided into Focusing Strategies, Close Reading Strategies, and Text Dependent Activities as well as scaffolding for advanced learners. The following is a list of all activities included in the unit:

Civil Rights Dictionary
Visual Vocab Activity
Visual Vocab Activity Rubric
Background Knowledge Infographic
Background Knowledge Infographic Rubric
Background Knowledge Infographic Sample
Background Knowledge Reference List
Credibility of Sources Worksheet
Pictures Inspired By King Activity
Pictures Inspired By King Quote List
Pictures Inspired By King Activity Rubric
Pictures Inspired By King Activity Sample
Birmingham Text Frame Activity
Birmingham Text Frame Activity Key
Birmingham Paragraph Outline
Birmingham Paragraph Outline Model
Birmingham Paragraph Rubric
Birmingham Paragraph Powerpoint
Transitional Word Prezi and Handout
Birmingham Quiz
Birmingham Key
A Call for Unity Letter
A Call for Unity Meeting
A Call for Unity Meeting Rubric
Rules for a Critical Discussion
A Call for Unity Formulating Critical Questions
Nonviolent Protest Activity for Advanced Learners
Nonviolent Protest Activity Rubric
Total Pages
71
Answer Key
Included with Rubric
Teaching Duration
2 Weeks

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Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail: A Common
Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail: A Common
Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail: A Common
Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail: A Common
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